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Links with Ireland

Sorley MacLean
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Sorley MacLean

Links with Ireland

The peoples and languages of Ireland and Scotland are linked by their shared history and by the deep roots which they have in the same culture.

There was little to stop the coming and going of people across the Straits of Moyle, the narrowest stretch of sea between County Antrim in Northern Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre on the south-west coast of Scotland.

The people of the west coast traded across the sea with the people of Ireland.

Lighthouse on the Mull of Kintyre
Lighthouse on the Mull of Kintyre

They spoke Goedelic languages which were similar.

It was much easier to sail across the sea than to travel on land.

It was just a few miles between Ireland and Kintyre.

The same family, descended from Fergus the Great, controlled land on both sides of the Straits of Moyle up to the 7th or 8th century.

However, it became more difficult for the kings of Dalriada to keep control in Ulster.

Fergus Mor
Scotland Map

The Viking attacks caused a great upheaval in the 9th century and the two kingdoms separated.


It is said that Robert Bruce, King of Scotland between 1306-1329, wanted the Irish to join up with the Scots since they had the same history, traditions and language.

People have been moving between the shores of Ireland and of Scotland for hundreds of years and this created the countries and the identities which we know today.

Indeed, when the Irish saint Columba or Colm Cille came from Ireland to the island of Iona in 563, he helped shape Scotland forever.

He set up a monastery on Iona, and western Scotland and north-east Ireland were both in the Kingdom of Dalriada.


Gaelic can refer to Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) or Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge).

The two languages are very similar.

They are both Celtic in origin.

They both came from the language of the Gaels, the Celtic people which came from mainland Europe to Ireland (and after that to Scotland and the Isle of Man).

Gaelic in Scotland amd Ireland